The Boston Celtics' five-game winning streak sounds modest considering Boston's Eastern Conference rival, the Miami Heat, will be looking for their 18th straight win Sunday. But considering that earlier in 2013, the Celtics were not only coping with the loss of star Rajon Rondo and in a question mark to even make the playoffs, the position they're in just a month later is pretty impressive.
The Celtics (34-27) are now just two games out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, behind the Brooklyn Nets. Extending their winning streak and gaining more ground on Sunday, however, will be a challenge as Boston plays at Oklahoma City (46-16) at 1 p.m. ET on ABC. The Thunder have the NBA's third best record. The Thunder enter the game with four straight wins.
The Celtics have been fueled by the re-emergence of former Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green. Green has averaged more than 15 points per game since Feb. 1, he's shooting nearly 50 percent in that stretch and he's making nearly 40 percent of his three-pointers. More importantly, he's proven to be the versatile, aggressive defensive player the Celtics hoped he'd develop into when they acquired him from the Thunder. He's paired with Boston guard Avery Bradley to boost the pressure the Celtics are able to put on opposing perimeter players.
Bradley and Green are likely to see a lot of Oklahoma City stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant leads the league in scoring at 28.5 points per game and Westbrook 23.4 points and 7.7 assists per game this season. He's also making a career-best 34 percent of his three-pointers and getting to the line more than seven times per game.
Boston won the previous meeting this season, beating Oklahoma City, 108-100, in November, led by 27 points from Paul Pierce. Durant had 29 points in the game and Westbrook scored 26.